The survey has run nationally every year since 2011 in response to growing concern about principals’ occupational health, safety and wellbeing. Since the project began, approximately 50% of Australia’s 10,000 principals have taken part. Many have completed multiple surveys.
The aim of this research project is to conduct a longitudinal study monitoring school principals and deputy/assistant principals’ health and wellbeing annually. Principals and deputy/assistant principals’ health and wellbeing in differing school types, levels and size will be monitored, along with lifestyle choices such as exercise and diet and the professional and personal social support networks available to individuals. The turnover of principals and deputy/assistant principals within schools will allow investigations of moderator effects, such as years of experience prior to taking up the role. The longitudinal study will allow the mapping of health outcomes on each of these dimensions over time.
Each survey participant received a comprehensive, individual report from his/her own survey responses. The report is an interactive secure webpage allowing participants to compare their scores on 45 separate dimensions with the general population, other principals and themselves over time. The other form of feedback is a red flag indicator that has been programmed to be automatically triggered by the survey system if a participant reported either consideration of self-harm in the week preceding completing the survey, or if their combined answers to the quality of life questions add to a total score that falls two Standard Deviations below the mean score for principals. A ‘red flag’ email is then generated and sent to the participant outlining his or her individual result and includes a list of support services available in the local area. This is done anonymously so participants can choose what course of action to take.